MediSafe has a sharp focus on what it wants to achieve, and if the project’s press releases are to be believed, it is achieving its goals admirably. The app itself is a “virtual pillbox” that reminds users when they need to take various medications, and, according to the project, using it regularly has helped raise users’ medication adherence rates 31 points over the World Health Organization average to 81 percent.
MediSafe may be used as either a guest user or by signing up for an account. Signing up requires that the user provide their name, email address, phone number and date of birth, but gives no explanation as to why these are needed at the time of signup — the request for the phone number in particular may put some users off, as it is impossible to complete signup without providing it. As it happens, the phone number is used to sync information between different users — quite why the app doesn’t use a more conventional username system isn’t clear. This is something which would benefit from a rethink in a future update.
Once in, either as a guest or a registered user, the app’s main interface, which resembles a pillbox divided into quadrants, appears. By tapping on one of the quadrants, users may see at a glance which meds they are due to take in the morning, at noon, in the evening or at night. The exact time each of these divisions refers to (and subsequently reminds the user via notification) may be customized in the app’s settings.
Adding meds to a quadrant is a matter of tapping the “add” button in the corner of the screen and then adding its details. Meds with a barcode may be scanned directly into the app using the device’s camera, though all information may be input (or corrected) manually if desired. Information that can be recorded includes the name of the medicine, the dosage (including whether it is a pill, liquid or injection), whether or not it is a continuous course (though this option doesn’t appear to work properly at present), the time(s) at which it needs to be taken and any special instructions such as whether or not it should be taken before, after or with food.
MediSafe is a good idea that is, for the most part, implemented sensibly. Most users will probably have their phone with them for the majority of the time wherever they are, so having it remind them to take their medication makes a lot of sense. However, a few things about the app could do with some refinement and clarification, not least of which is the signup procedure. Removing the requirement to provide a phone number and allowing users to register and sync information using a unique name would be much more user-friendly, as well as much more in keeping with what modern Internet and smartphone-savvy users are accustomed to.
Despite its few flaws, MediSafe is the very embodiment of the “there’s an app for that” philosophy. It clearly demonstrates the benefits of creating an app with a pin-sharp focus rather than an ill-defined, amorphous and unnecessarily “social” concept. Its audience may be somewhat necessarily limited to those who are taking regular courses of medication, but among that audience this app could quite literally be a lifesaver one day.
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